Checking China’s pulse


Welcome to our mid-year bi-monthly issue, which features our annual China Business Law Directory. In the special directory section, you will find a handy reference guide comprising listings of active law firms with interest in supporting China-related trade and investment. Besides law firm listings, our directory section this year features in-depth market analyses in four closely linked stories, investigating changes in the overall regulatory landscape and addressing concerns of corporate counsel, Chinese law firms and their international counterparts.

cblj-1607-prologueAs accelerated tech development appears more of a disruption than a boon for market players, innovative business ideas have become a must for survival. While corporate counsel may have to change their gatekeeping mindset and think increasingly like adventurous business leaders, regulations may lag behind market trends and regulators seem to be more cautious.

To ensure a safe economic journey in a capricious global climate, the central government has tightened its grip on sectors prone to upheaval. Emerging sectors such as internet financing and other online platform businesses, and their involvement in the capital-market games, have been more intensely monitored by regulators.

But with regard to activities in line with the national strategy, regulators have lavished more support. Chinese outbound investors are among the main beneficiaries, and soaring overseas investment has proven a big stimulus to the business of both Chinese and international law firms. Meanwhile, tightened regulation in other areas may have also beefed up business for lawyers.

But more business can sometimes come with higher risks for lawyers. New players in the legal industry, together with the automation of some services, have made life tougher for traditional law firms. To survive, lawyers from both Chinese and foreign firms must be more specialized and capable of handling high-end complex projects.

In the directory section, Steady hand on the tiller looks into recent regulatory updates in China, and their implications. Embracing a new self contains articles from three in-house counsel groups, all focused on how corporate counsel may need to re-define their functions. Changing tack and Tough times explore the challenges, problems and opportunities facing Chinese and international law firms, respectively.

The outbound feature this issue focuses on the property sector. As competition grows fierce in China’s domestic market, real estate is proving an attractive target for Chinese companies seeking to diversify their investment overseas. Homes away from home explores the trends, opportunities and possible legal hurdles involved in Chinese investment in overseas property. Insurance companies, developers and private equity funds remain the most active outbound players, and to these investors residential properties and commercial buildings are among the most appealing. But ignorance of legal details can result in investment collapse.